A Three Hour Tour

For the holidays we like to give the kids experiences. Today we used my daughter’s gift, a three hour food tour. It was freezing so I didn’t take too many pictures. Here are a few things we learned along the way.

The building on the right was the first bank in the area, everyone called it The Bank. One of the main reasons for the bank was to house the valuables of the clay mine workers. Most came from Italy and they needed a place to keep valuable items they brought from home. Many lived in rooming houses which left no private or secure areas.

The bank is now a coffee shop but they kept many of the 100 year old items. The terrazzo floor pretty much looks the same as it did when they installed it, I kinda think I want that in my next hour.

One of the best parts was the bank vault, still intact with all the small safe deposit boxes locked tight. I’m pretty sure they are all empty, now it houses a few chairs for the quiet coffee drinker.

The building on the right has a super interesting story. When they first opened they needed something to stand out and bring in customers as the story was like many in the area. What he did was start to give away a bottle of bleach with every grocery purchase. In those days men mostly wore white button up shirts and the napkins people in the area used were white. Both of these require bleach.

The man bought industrial bleach and diluted it in his bathtub. Cheap for him and it built his business. Facinating!

Shotgun houses. Our guide told us some of these were built with timbers from the St. Louis 1904 Fair. Once the event was over someone was knocking down all the structures and burning the wood. A bunch of the clay miners saved the wood and used it to build these homes. Many didn’t have hallways and closets to reduce the tax. Interesting how what we tax changes over the years, always pivoting to tax us as much as they can.

If you zoom in to the house you can see some odd colors on the second story. It is chalk, plaster and concrete. The neighborhood used to be filled with these colors but now just two remain. It is said the owners did years ago as most houses were just plain brick, it was a way to make everything stand out.

This is so against code now but years ago people would buy a lot and build two homes on it. Rent own to help pay off the other. The second home was usually much smaller and pushed way to the back of the lot.

The building on the left has some very interesting brick you can see around the neighborhood. I saw brown, green and white examples. I’m not sure what it was called but it had a very shiny glaze on it. Fragile which has resulted in most of it is now gone.

A better shot of the green.

We ended back at the old bank. The white package is ten pounds of pasta. Pretty excited to try it out.

While it was freezing we had a great time. One thing stands out to me while this was a food tour I mostly took pictures of the buildings! Not sure why but that was facinating to me.

One other thing stood out, the number of people out has dramatically dropped this week. I worry some of these places we went today might not survive until the down turn in business.

Our plan is to buy a few gift cards to the small places we like to go. While it might not make a huge difference it is better than doing nothing.

4 thoughts on “A Three Hour Tour

  1. What a fun gift! We like to give our girls experiences too. Thanks for sharing the terrific pics and the stories that go with them. It sounds like a great adventure. PS Great idea about the gift cards!

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  2. I am a foodie, so I was really excited to read about and see pictures of some food. I love how you turned a food tour into a tour of the buildings that you discovered. It was fascinating.

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  3. This is lovely. It is so interesting to learn the history of old towns. Isn’t it about time that the uniqueness of such places is becoming valued and cherished more instead of bulldozed and replaced. My hope is that during this viral episode, people will stay closer to home, forego the crowds and shop locally for a change. Thank you for that impetus in your delightful post.

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  4. I love the idea of gifting experiences (filing away for when the kids grow out of their Pokémon/doll era). Also love the gift card idea. Some businesses are adapting—Novel Neighbor is doing curbside pickup!—but I worry about the others.

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